When our in-house design team asked Coral to design graphics for our new sleep tees, she was caught between absolute light and dark. So she let her artwork do all the talking…
Your zodiac sign:
I am a Gemini with my moon in Aries… I actually don’t know as much about astrology as I would like, but if you ever want to talk Enneagram or Meyers-Briggs, I’ll talk your ear off for hours (I’m a 2w3 and an ENFJ).
The moment you knew you were an artist — when/what/how?
I never thought of myself as an “artist” until fairly recently, actually. I always knew I was creative and would happily spend hours creating anything I could. However, as I got older, I started directed my creativity toward business and strategy because that is what was valued in the suburban community that I grew up in…and was probably more comfortable for me. But at the beginning of 2017 realized I was worn out by creating just for brands and to sell product. I also realized that I was trying to create without being surrounded by inspiration or people who understood me.
So I moved to Atlanta with the intention of immersing myself in a creative community. When I got there, I knew no one, no one knew me, and I doubted if I even knew myself. This caused me to confront deeply held beliefs about my identity and a chronic loneliness that I have always carried. It was in the moments of personal doubt and the vulnerability of asking to be accepted by a new community, that all I could do was to create and explore my heart and processing through art. I started Coral Monday to have a place for art I was making, but kept it anonymous, fearing rejection. It wasn’t until I started showing people and letting myself be seen even while “in process” that I realized that I was an artist and was creating art that others connected with.
There is one specific piece that I drew in the midst of my insecurity and just arbitrarily posted it on the (then anonymous) IG account. I vividly remember where I was sitting when I drew it and the overwhelming feeling of “not enough” that I was carrying. A few months later, I started get photos of it sent to me from people all around the world who got it permanently tattooed on their bodies. This was a healing moment for me to know that while I doubted myself, the art that I was making was significant to others and helped me start to accept my identity as an artist without shame.
Now, I am living in LA and working professionally as an artist full-time. Publicly, my name is growing and I am getting to work on rad projects (like designing for Free People!!) that I am so excited about. But I am most grateful that in my private life, no matter what I am doing, whether it is photography, drawing, or writing, or what I am wearing for the day, it is coming from a place of true experience and it is fulfilling for my own heart, life, and community. Art has just become a way of living. The fact that others are connecting with it and I am getting paid to do this is just icing on the cake and a dream come true.
Your tool of choice?
I use my iPad Pro for a lot of work, especially for iterations and concepts. I also love doing pencil/ink sketches and have been moving into mix media pieces that are more abstract.
Your hand is very whimsical – does that come naturally, or is it a style that you developed over time?
I’ve honestly never thought about this… but I think it’s a mixture. I studied artists and discovered what I liked visually so the whimsical style is definitely intentional. However, I am a slightly chaotic person and hate tedious projects, so the whimsical style is probably filling that need for me as well because it is controlled chaos.
In addition to creating fine art, you commission your work for tattoos! How many tattoos do you have personally, and if so, what are they?
I have two! When I first moved to Atlanta last year, as I said, it was really painful at first, but I knew it was something I had to do and wanted to do. So I got my first tattoo of a California poppy bouquet. This was symbolic for me because it means, “both storm and sun make the poppies grow”. That year in CA we actually got a good amount of rain that led to a wildflower super bloom. It reminded me to have gratitude for all the elements, good and bad, of living a full life and represent that I wanted to grow from that experience and always.
The second is a little single line wave on my foot. My sister and I got them together. The ocean is really significant for both of us and the wave is another reminder of acceptance and gratitude.
Advice for anyone who wants to make more art?
Create every day. This will help you begin to see more clearly and almost force you to observe your own self and the world around you. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, but the practice creating will help you sharpen your skills and perspective. At the end of the day, I think that the perspective and voice of an artist may carry more weight than the final product. When you know your perspective, you can create anything from that.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what are your top 5 go-to’s?
Yes! I have a habit of listening to the same song on repeat for hours and the same 5ish songs over and over for a week straight. It helps me focus and is usually reflective of my life during that time.
My go-to people lately are Phoebe Bridges, Noah Gundersen, David Ramirez, John Mayer, and Cage the Elephant.
What inspired your designs for our new bamboo-crafted (!) sleep tees?
One theme (two shirts) is inspired by the sun and the moon. When I was in the process of discovering myself as an artist, I wrote the words “She looked like the sun, but felt like the moon” to represent how I was feeling at that time. I come off as warm and light and love to laugh, but feel the darker side of life pretty intensely. That phrase was something I originally wrote about myself to make sense of the contrast that I live in, knowing that so many others feel the same way and can relate. The other shirt in this theme has a line drawing of a sun and a moon with faces. This one is the visual representation of the quote.
What does “Free People” mean to you?
Something that changed my life was writing myself “Freedom Journals” where I wrote lists and lists of things I wished myself freedom to be and freedom to do. For example, “I wish you freedom to create without shame. I wish you freedom to fail. I wish you freedom to be all that you are and all that you are becoming. I wish you freedom to love with your whole heart. I wish you freedom to shine. etc…”
All that to say, I think when we wish ourselves freedom to be all that we are, we can step into our true purpose. I think “Free People” look like people who are learning themselves, learning to love themselves, and learning to create and love without fear of failure.